Blurred Lines

Exploring the blurred lines between health and illness, this text, written by Stan Moorcroft, one of our volunteers who helps facilitate our English Conversation groups, questions the traditional ‘well’ versus ‘unwell’ divide.

“Most people enter adulthood believing that there are two ways of being, two distinct modes of existence with regard to both physical and mental health,  the well and the unwell. Those in the former might been inspired by a, laudable, desire to alleviate the suffering of the latter.  They do so in the firm belief that they are the lucky inhabitants of the world of the healthy and are separated by a clearly demarcated line from the unwell.  Of course,  there is some truth in this formulation, but it can have some unfortunate consequences. The most potentially harmful being the importation of a conscious and unconscious power dynamic into the relationship. ‘Being healthy is good, being unwell bad, I have come to rescue you.’ 

In the real world the lines of demarcation are much more blurred, sometimes disappearing in the fog completely. This reality can feel threatening to the professional who may react to this dawning reality by seeking to bolster the distinction between themselves and their patients/clients. This, of course, serves to strengthen the power dynamic. 

I want to suggest that the recognition that you can be doctor one day and patient the next, professional one day and client/service user the next, that mental, and to a lesser extent,  physical health is a continuum should be embraced.*  This dissolves the power dynamic and facilitates both greater understanding and empathy and a richer experience focused upon mutual benefit for both service user and provider alike.

* This needs , of course,  to be sincere,  I have heard some professionals declare this mantra whilst clearly only paying lip service.”

Written by Stan Moorcroft